Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg
Game Info
Platform(s)
GameCube
Publisher
Sega
Developer
Sonic Team
Genre
Platformer
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Mild Cartoon Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Nice puzzle elements
• Bright and colorful level design
• Theme song you can't help but hum along with

The Bad

• Needs a little more polish
• Could use a wider range of enemies and goals
• Cute factor may turn off some gamers

 
Grade
B-

It's nice to see Sonic Team, the guys responsible for Sonic the Hedgehog, try to step away from Sega's mascot for once and try something a little different in the platforming genre (Yeah, I know they're responsible for Samba de Amigo and Phantasy Star Online as well). While Billy Hatcher has the look and feel of a 3D Sonic title, it's core element is puzzle-based on the omnipresent eggs that Billy must keep around to succeed at anything. In fact, I would state that that Billy Hatcher probably has more in common with Super Monkey Ball than Sonic. The story begins with a finely polished opening cinema of Billy saving a chicken from some crows. Because of this act of heroism, Billy is transported to Morning Land and given a magical suit and a mission to set free the elders of each location.

Once Billy gets his special suit, which makes him look like a rooster, you'll need to acquire one the many eggs laying around. If not, don't expect to get too far as Billy needs the eggs to damage enemy monsters, hit switches or even make certain jumps. Luckily, there's always a nest nearby and Billy must push the egg around. Before too long, you'll realize that you can roll the egg over fruit, which powers up the egg, making it bigger. Once the egg gets enough fruit (Don't ask me why eggs need to fruit - I don't get it either), you can hold down the Right Trigger to hatch the egg. With normal eggs, this doesn't do anything, but since the game world has many different types of eggs, you'll find this a necessary element before too long.

By the color and pattern of the egg, players can determine what their egg will hatch into. Blue eggs yield a water-based animal, while yellow eggs give you a lightning-based creature. There are also limited-time powerups to be found in the eggs. Once you hatch the egg, you can use the animals as weapons or puzzle-solving elements. If you find a switch encircled in flame, there is sure to be a blue egg nearby, just waiting to be hatched. Once hatched, toss the watery critter at the flames and then grab another egg, jump and smash down on the switch to unlock whatever next place you need to go to.

Locations are broken up into multiple stages where the player must first free the area's elder and then defeat the local boss. Boss battles are pretty fun as they likewise incorporate using the eggs and the range of skills Billy has onhand. After beating the boss, you'll be given access to a new area or the option to return to the previous area to finish the rest of the stages. But, since every stage is score-based, players will definitely want to replay to get a better score. There is a multiplayer mode here, but it's pretty shallow and only entertaining if you don't have any other party games.

Visually, Billy Hatcher is all about the bright and exciting locations. Level and character designs are nicely done, even though they tread on standard platformer themes, and as the game moves along, locations look and are designed more intricately. Enemies, though, tend to look pretty similar except with minor changes in color palette. Sonic Team has made sure to use their full bag of tricks to make this 3D title as easy on the eyes and playable as possible. Audio-wise, the game features a fine array of effects that can't help but put a smile on your face. Also present is possibly one of the most hummable theme songs ever conceived.

It must be said that Billy Hatcher suffers from a degree of repetition. You'll find that just about every location gives you the same types of goals and all the bosses can be defeated with similar methods. And because the enemies all look similar, you may feel that you're doing the same thing a little too often. Also, in certain locations, the framerate seems to get inconsistent, but this can generally be ignored as it doesn't hamper the core gameplay. Some minor collision detection issues and loose control with the egg could use another layer of polish.

I will say that while not perfect, Billy Hatcher is good fun. If you were expecting the title to have Sonic's breakneck speed, you might need to look elsewhere. Also, the game's extremely high in cute factor, so much so that some older gamers may be turned off. Everyone else should at least give this title a rent.

- - Vane

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